It takes courage for addicts to admit their problem. It takes strength to help another addict recover. It takes faith to trust God for hope and healing.
These were the lessons of Odessa Jackson Graham’s and Demetra Kinloch’s “Cry in the Wilderness” ministry presented at the Lighthouse of Jesus Christ Church on September 18-20. The three-night revival, filled with praise, scripture, prayer and hymns, included both local and visiting speakers who furthered Jackson’s dream of creating a long-term rehab facility in Georgetown County.
Evangelist Pamela Wright presided for the opening service on Wednesday evening and introduced Graham, who spoke briefly about the influx of drugs and the vulnerability of our area youth. “They have this thing called krokodil,” said Graham, “that was over in Russia but is now here in the United States. It eats you from inside out and the heroin addicts are now shooting up with this thing and it’s destroying our families’ lives now and we have to do something to combat. This is why I am putting on this program, so I thank God for what he’s about to do.” She asked the congregation to pray for her strength as Deacon Harold Turner lead the singing of “Jesus I’ll Never Forget.”
Following a praise dance from Christin Niveah Cooley, Georgetown Police Chief Kelvin Waites addressed the listeners. “Believe it or not, what we are dealing with is impacting everybody.” He spoke about growing up in Harlem and moving to Charleston as a child when his protective father found a rolled-up slip of paper in his room and immediately suspected drugs. “My daddy was old-school and I believed him. As a kid, I didn’t understand the stronghold that drugs can have on somebody. Twenty-two years ago, I got involved in law enforcement and I started to see and learn how drugs destroy individuals, families and the entire community.” Waites touched on the highs and lows of his career and the repetitive cycle that addicts live in and out of the criminal justice system.
“I am a police chief that believes in God,” said Waites. “When we have meetings at the police department, we pray,” he continued. He closed with a success story of a convicted drug dealer who served his time, yet kept his commitment to become a minister. “People cannot change people. It has to be God,” he said.
Minister Crystal Pitt from Savannah, who lost her father through addiction, spoke next and elaborated on the “Birthing out of the Cocoon” theme of the event. “I’m a woman standing before you that used to be a caterpillar,” said Pitt. “We all have a caterpillar season,” she began, admitting the creature’s ugliness, destruction, and relentless hunger. “We’ve all been addicted to something,” she said, listing the gamut of sex, food, money, smoking and drugs that pervade the culture. “Nobody likes the caterpillar, but everybody loves the transformed butterfly,” she shared. “The distance between the caterpillar becoming the butterfly is called the process and there are no shortcuts as they pertain to the process,” she said, then told the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. “Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.”
Thursday evening’s program featured testimony from Brother Daniel Green who credited his sister for referring him to “A Cry in the Wilderness.”
“I wake up in the morning giving thanks in advance,” said Green after sharing his struggles with substance abuse. “The opiate addiction in Georgetown right now is crazy,” Green added. He expressed his concern for addicts who stay away from church because they think church members look down on them. “I’m here to tell you guys that it’s real out there--people that need you out there--the real prayers, the ones that’s not gonna’ look down on you, the ones of genuine love.”
Following a musical interlude of “Jesus is the Way Maker,” Pastor Charles Bernard Johnson of St. Matthews Missionary Baptist Church began by reading the fifth chapter of Mark, a gospel full of actions and miracles. “Addiction is an outward sign of an inward problem,” he said, “But absolutely nobody can do you like Jesus,” he continued, pointing out that seven of the twelve steps in twelve-step recovery programs have God in them.
Following a praise dance given by Ajaina’ Washington, Kevin Jackson shared his engaging testimony on Friday night. He introduced himself as Ms. Odessa Jackson Graham’s son and discussed his troubled teen-age years and eventual prison term. “For a very long time in my life, I lived for other people. I did a lot of things that I didn’t necessarily wanna’ do, but I did because I felt that those were my options. I didn’t realize that through simply applying myself through another manner, my options are endless.” Jackson spoke also of his professional success after his release, his marriage, his over-dedication to a corporate job, his home purchase, his soul-searching and his ongoing humility to face “one fight at a time.”
Evangelist Shaniequa Washington of Charleston, founder of “Dare to be Different” International Ministries concluded the three-day revival with prayer for the end of condemnation and the flourishing of love that covers a multitude of sins. “The word tells us that faith without works is dead,” said Washington and spoke on the value of recognizing the messiness of birth and the dirtiness of the soil that brings forth the best plants. During her motivational sermon, she read scripture from Isaiah 66:9 that encourages people to emerge according to God’s will.
That is the hope of “A Cry in the Wilderness Ministry” as the nine-year-old group continues to promote awareness and seek support for their much-needed rehab facility. Donations are accepted at email@example.com via Paypal.